We described the Loughinisland massacre here,
using a short film which sets it within the football match the victims were watching as they were murdered
Ordinary working men,they were watching a football match in their local bar, as many of you did today and will do in the coming weeks.
For years and years, their families struggled to find out who had killed them.
They were forced to navigate their way through all the obstacles an unfriendly legal system throws up when it is used by people who are determined to cover up the past.
Finally in 2016, the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire published his report into what happened that night.
He wrote one of the the most damning expositions of State collusion in mass murder that has ever been published.
He provided a continuum of evidence of collusion from the 1970’s, through to the 1980’s to the 1990’s. From Glenanne to South Africa, to the worst examples of informer handling in the 1990s, which concluded in the murder of 6 men.
They were just watching a football match on TV in their local bar, as many of us did today, and will do in the coming weeks.
You can read his report here
What was this collusion strategy?
The British had widely used this type of counter-insurgency strategy in anti-colonial struggles since WWII.
Northern Ireland, though officially part of the United Kingdom, was just another opportunity to put it into action.
Are there any other examples of it in Northern ireland?
Indeed, the Saville Report (2010) into Bloody Sunday and the de Silva Report (2013) on collusion with loyalist paramilitaries led to two ‘unconditional’ British apologies for the behaviour of its security forces in Northern Ireland.
In November 2013, a BBC ‘Panorama’ investigation into British counterinsurgency in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s revealed that members of a special covert operations unit known as the Military Reaction Force (MRF) admitted to the murder of suspects and unarmed Catholic civilians.
Who introduced it to Northern Ireland?
Brigadier Frank Kitson, as counterinsurgency theorist and as operational commander in Belfast (1970–2) established a generic framework for British conduct in Northern Ireland that remains the foundation of British counterinsurgency practices.
Cornerstones of his strategy are:
- Control the population by ‘pacification’, ‘stabilisation’ or ‘winning hearts and minds’.Population control was essentially about coercion: ‘conditions can be made reasonably uncomfortable for the population as a whole . . . to act as a deterrent towards a resumption of the campaign’.
- Covert operations, the ‘turning’ of insurgents through ‘carrot and stick’ measures, and ‘countergangs’ or ‘pseudogangs’, which could infiltrate or deceive insurgents.
- A ‘chain reaction system’ of intelligence-gathering. Accumulating masses of low-grade ‘background intelligence’ would generate ‘contact information’, which would then expose the enemy for elimination. This intelligence would come partly from mass ‘screening’ of populations, informants, harsh interrogation of prisoners (he is a source for the persistence of the ‘five techniques’ in the British Army) and turning insurgents, and partly from covert operations
- Paramilitarising the British Army, by switching its focus to unconventional warfare, training troops ‘to support civil power’ , adopting the techniques of insurgents, and fighting ‘terrorism’ with state terror units in a form of gang warfare.
- Psychological operations and media manipulation by briefing and spin. Close relationships were established with journalists in Northern Ireland, who became ‘useful mouthpieces’ (as one journalist told the Saville Enquiry).
The Loughinisland men watching a football match in their local were murdered as part of this “counter-insurgency” strategy. They were probably just “collateral damage”
This is what Niall Murphy, lawyer for the Loughinisland families, had to say in an interview with Jude Collins, retired University Lecturer and Political Commentator